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The i Generation

I’m waiting for my kids to finish up an extremely important video game. If they don’t, apparently it will be catastrophic. Everything they have worked so hard for will be destroyed – the levels completed, the points accrued, the hours spent ignoring me. It will all be for naught.

I wish I saw this same level of commitment when it came to putting their clothes away, finishing up  homework, reading a book or just generally focusing one tenth of their attention to the words coming out of my mouth as they do to the zombies trying to eat them or the football players running on electronic fields of green.

Gone are the days of carefree casual communication. When my boys walk in from school, they drop their backpacks and head straight for their devices like homing pigeons drawn by some unconscious motivator. I try to intervene with small talk – Hey, how was your day? Anyone want a snack? What happened in such and such class? – and general fussing about but they swat me away with nods and non-communicative grunts.

I consider ripping devices from their little paws and demanding attention, have in fact done it many times but now I’m trained and generally sigh and shuffle off and wait till they’ve had their fix. I’ve seen addiction and they’ve just gone through 8 hours of withdrawal. It seems cruel not to give them 15 minutes.

These days it seems children and teens and their devices go hand in hand. Where they go, it goes and communication goes out the window. I can’t even say it’s just about the younger generation. We middle-aged folk are similarly attached, yet we were around before microwaves, ATM’s and computers and we still know how to use a pot, get money from a teller and write freehand. We hold our books to our hearts but lug Kindles in our bags. We still have CD’s and even cassettes stored away, if nowhere else but in our brains. So yes, we are attached to our technology but we know how to live without them, because we have.

But the kids have not.

The iGeneration is all about technology, and communication without personal contact. I’d like to blame them for my oldest son’s questionable social skills but I can’t. He’s as naturally shy as my other son is naturally social and my youngest is somewhere in between.  It has nothing to do with the technology.

And so it goes. Every morning, sleep still on the brain, coffee in hand, my oldest gets into the car and we head off to school. I immediately pepper him with questions about his day while he answers only to the device in hand.

I sigh, turn on some music, sip my coffee and shake my head as I bob along to the new CBS FM, no more golden oldies, just recent oldies for getting oldies like me. I pull to the curb and he shoves his phone away. “Bye Mama,” He says, and before he gets out allows me to push the hair away from his eyes then flashes me a gorgeous heart stopping grin.

All is not lost.

 

Alisa Pnone through dec 31, 2012 046

So yeah, there’s this…

 

But there's this too

But there’s also this…

 

Let The iBeatings Begin!

I want to beat my children. Wait, did I say that out loud? Please don’t call child services. I don’t really want to beat them in the literal way, just figuratively. Figuratively, I want to beat them silly.

Why? I don’t know. Maybe because they’re spoiled and deserve a good figurative beating. Because maybe, I’m tired of the word, “Wait” when I’m asking something like, “Do you want vanilla or chocolate?” and their video game can’t be interrupted; or maybe because they remember they need special molding clay at 9pm for a diorama due the next day. Or because I make three different dinners for them to say, “I’m not hungry” but five minutes after everything has been cleared away, find them attached to my waist, devastated by hunger. Because I sit and help patiently with homework only to be told that “It’s fine” with an eye roll of disdain, even when it’s not, and they haven’t figured out yet that they should say bless you when I sneeze, or offer to help when I’m schlepping in 12 grocery bags instead of throwing their knapsack on top of the bags. That’s why. I could go on, if you need more.

But it’s no longer the 70’s when beatings were just as acceptable as lack of supervision and random light drug use. When I tell my children I’m going to beat them – an entertaining threat that I somehow picked up watching the hysterical skit from Bill Cosby Himself – they roll their eyes. “Oh funny, mom.”   Yeah, I have them quaking in their furry crocs.

Ooops.

Ooops.

I need something to show them that I mean business. I probably would get more of a response if I threatened to beat their devices.

That’s it! They would cower in fear. I would have them at my mercy. I can hear them now…

“NO! My iPhone hasn’t done anything wrong. Please, beat me! Just leave it alone.”

“But, it’s taken me so long to get to that level!”

“Not my contacts!”

“Take the DS! Or the Wii. Just leave the X-Boxxxxxxx!”

phone death 3

Gee, what’s that doing there? Mwahahaha

Or, maybe we could create a new app – iMomfia where I control all the apps on my kids’ devices. If one of the children doesn’t behave, I could make one of their apps just disappear. They’ll never know which one.

I would hold their complete submission in my hands. I would have them doing their homework, putting their dishes in the sink, taking showers without hassle. It’s genius. Or blackmail. Same, same.

Somehow technology has become the only effective method of bribery in my house. For the past few years I’ve used it as a carrot, dangling before them. “Do well in school this year and I’ll get you an iTouch… Show me how helpful you can be around the house and maybe you’ll earn yourself an iTunes card…”  So, I guess it’s partly my fault that it’s become the most important thing to them, but I prefer to blame society.

Yes! It’s society’s fault that I own them in the first place, and now just to get my children’s attention, I may have to beat a device worth hundreds of dollars.

Ouch.

This is gonna hurt.

phone death

*No children or devices were harmed in the making of this totally humorous post.

Making waves…micro ones

I walked their new house, clutching my Dunkin Donuts’ coffee cup and taking it all in. The Great room was great, spacious and bright. There were accents all around the house that suggested that its previous owners were modern back in the seventies, which was the last time anyone had done anything to the place. There was a scary open staircase that freaked me out because I had young kids. Almost everything needed updating, but there were a lot of rooms and a lot of potential.

I hadn’t taken off my jacket yet, and my sister and brother-in-law were walking around with sweaters, hats and scarves. Okay… apparently there was some insulation work that needed to be done as well.

The tour ended in the kitchen.

“Hey, where’s the microwave?” I asked my sister-in-law, “I want to heat up my coffee.”

“We don’t have a microwave.” She said, “You know Corey, he thinks they’re no good. Here, give me.”

She took what was left of my coffee and poured it into a pot on the stove.

I felt like I was on the frontier.

Now I know these people. They didn’t have a microwave in their city apartment. But that kitchen was small and stylized in a way which would severely limit their already limited space. I thought for sure, they’d have one here. Who doesn’t have a microwave these days? I wondered, somewhat disapproving. Oh, yes, I can be holier than thou, just check out my socks.

I knew my brother-in-law could live in a cave as long as there was the NY Times and an AM radio.  That being said, my sister-in-law is a gazelle who fancies expensive boots and fabulous haircuts. I figured they’d cancel each other out and maybe produce a cute, baby microwave. No. Not the case.

“Where’s the Keurig?” I asked, referring to a change of life coffee maker I had gifted them when I realized its magnificence.

“Oh, that.” She gestured with a wave of her hand. “He returned that immediately.” She shook my re-heated coffee in the pot. “Really, this is fine.”

I’m lucky my eyes didn’t get stuck behind my head for all the judging I was doing.

That was years ago, but now I’m officially here to say that I’ve seen the light. Well, it was more of a spark, actually. And, yes, it came from inside of my microwave.

The offending beast

The offending beast

I was heating up some leftover pasta when a flash caught my eye. Was that fire? Electricity? I don’t fully understand what “micro waves” are, so I was naturally a little concerned. The only other time I had witnessed something like it was when I accidentally left a fork on a plate in there. Uh, don’t do that.

Needless to say, I pulled the plug on the microwave. For a moment it was like all the light in my world went out. How would I heat up Michael’s pasta? I stood in my kitchen momentarily confused. It was like the time the ATM didn’t work and I had to withdraw money from an actual live teller. I blanked then too. Technology had been doing it for me for so long, I simply forgot how.

Wait! I had a stove. I had a pot. I could just put the pasta in the pot and heat it! Revelation. And it worked, sort of. Some of the re-heated pasta did come out a little hard, which Michael immediately shunned, but it was mostly okay. I felt powerful. I didn’t need no stinkin’ microwave.

For the first couple of days, I managed fine, until I realized that you need a microwave to make microwave popcorn. That kind of stumped me. We loved microwave popcorn. Another flash, although this one didn’t come with radiation – I would buy kernels and pop it on the stove. I would make Potcorn! I was just bursting with excitement.

After shopping for special popcorn oil, seasoning and spray butter to help the seasoning stick, I was ready. The boys and I watched eagerly, shaking the pot at regular intervals until our eyes and ears witnessed the miracle transformation from kernel to corn. It went on for about a minute or so, but then abruptly stopped. We continued shaking the many kernels left in the pot, but all we wound up with was a burnt pot and burnt potcorn. Bummer.

burnt popcorn

The next snack disaster happened a few days later. Smores. I make smores a lot for play date snacks. It’s always a crowd pleaser. 30 seconds in the microwave and the chips are melty and the marshmallows puffed with gooey softness. Then you just do the graham cracker clap and done. I had six kids chanting for them. Could I make them in a toaster? ‘

burnt smore

Uh, no.

This is not to say that I haven’t enjoyed my month playing pioneer woman, but the real reason I didn’t just run out and buy a new one was because our microwave is built into our wall unit and we’re considering re-doing the kitchen. So I just wound up waiting, which turned into major procrastination, which resulted in burnt snacks and a lot more pots and pans to clean.

So while I will ultimately be getting another microwave, I did gain a new understanding of where my brother and sister-in-law are coming from.  I’ll roll my eyes no more. Except, of course, when I want a hot, fresh cup of coffee.

I couldn't go a day without this baby!

I couldn’t go a day without this baby!